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Music intervention in the intensive care unit: a complementary therapy to improve patient outcomes
  1. Mary Kathleen Wilkins, RN, BA, BSN,
  2. Margery L Moore, RN, BSN
  1. Intensive Care Unit, Portland Providence Medical Center
    Portland, Oregon, USA

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Inherent in illness and hospitalisation are many stressors, which manifest themselves in patient responses including physiological signs of sympathetic nervous system activation and psychological distress that necessitates treatment with pharmacological agents. A wide range of medical conditions combined with exposure to the unique environmental circumstances of the intensive care unit elicit problematic patient behaviour patterns requiring the application of physical and/or use of chemical restraints. Patient responses to stress experienced as a result of illness and hospitalisation may have deleterious effects, potentially exacerbating pathological conditions and increasing the complexity and decreasing the cost effectiveness of nursing care.


Evidence of the beneficial effects of music on the physiological, psychological, and social reaction of the patient was derived from an extensive literature review. Historical sources provided observations relating to the calming and healing effects of music from such diverse sources as Pythagoras, biblical commentary, and treatises from students of the 19th century Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush. …

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